The group TNAchieves has begun its effort to recruit 9,000 volunteer mentors to meet its goal of providing every TN Promise applicant from the Class of 2020 with a local support system. TN Promise affords every graduating high school senior in the state the opportunity to attend a community or technical college tuition free. Nearly 64,000 students from the Class of 2019 applied for the scholarship, which has a universal accept policy. Program administrators are expecting even more applicants from the Class of 2020.
Most of the TN Promise applicants will be the first in their family to go to college. Understanding that many obstacles can exist for first generation college students, each applicant is assigned a volunteer mentor who assists the student in eliminating the barriers associated with post-secondary access and success. tnAchieves mentors support students as they navigate the college going process and provide the nudges many need to earn a college credential.
“Tennessee Promise provides opportunity for every student in Tennessee,” said Krissy DeAlejandro, Executive Director, tnAchieves. “Going to college will change a student’s life forever. tnAchieves mentors are helping change the culture in our state. Mentors are shifting the conversation from, ‘should I go to college?’ to ‘where am I going to go to college?’ ”
The time commitment is small; tnAchieves only asks mentors to give one hour per month, but the impact can be life changing for students. The organization provides a one hour training session, a handbook and weekly communication to ensure the mentor is fully equipped to serve his/her students. To learn more, or to apply to become a mentor, go online to https://tnachieves.org/mentors/apply/.
Data from the first year of the program indicates that TN Promise students are graduating at a rate almost three times their peers at the same institutions. Program administrators believe eliminating the financial barrier, coupled with support from a mentor, is the reason students are graduating at significantly higher rates.
“We know the financial component of TN Promise is critical for many of our students attempting to access higher education." said Graham Thomas, Deputy Director of Outreach, tnAchieves. “We also know that even when the financial barrier is removed, successfully navigating the college going process can be extremely difficult. A few reminders and simple words of encouragement can be a game changer for our students. The volunteer mentors are the reason TN Promise is working.”
Launched in 2008, tnAchieves is a privately-funded scholarship and mentoring program that seeks to provide an opportunity for every Tennessee student to earn a post-secondary degree. It operates as a 501(c)3 non-profit in support of the TN Promise initiative in 91 counties across the state.
For information on tnAchieves, contact Graham Thomas at (615) 604-1306 or [email protected]